“I have chosen to be happy, because it’s good for my health”
In the modern world there is a yoga style for everybody. There is so many options, anything from spiritual kundalini yoga to circus-like aerial yoga. Most of the time I’m as confused as a chameleon in a skittles bag…
I hear lots of excuses how yoga is this ancient sport for tofu-eating-rubber-girls. Not true! Everybody goes to yoga nowadays. From babies to grandpas, ballet dancer to bodybuilders and vegans to carnivores. For example German soccer team, the 2014 FIFA World Cup winner, claim that they won because of yoga. In the words of Mario Gotze, who scored the winning goal in World Cup finals:
“Yoga helps us prevent injuries because it makes body more flexible and build strength in muscles that aren’t used. Most importantly yoga gives us awareness and helps us to relax.”
Yoga can benefit everybody, regardless your fitness level, age or physical ability.
It’s all about finding the yoga for you. Firstly find out what you looking for, do you want a super lean and muscly yoga bod, or do you like sweating, maybe you want to recover from injuries or maybe you want to grow your spiritual awareness. Getting traumatised by some Om-shanti-chanting-and-shaking-hippies might not be for you if your always been a gym junky…
I once saw a girl in a Bikram class. She was suffering so much and begged to get out of that 45 degree room. Teacher kept telling her that it’s not allowed, and that she should just toughen up. At the end of the class, when the poor girl was already purple, she managed to crawl outside the studio, but collapsed immediately and the ambulance picked her up. Great! I bet, she not trying Bikram (or sauna) very soon…
If you’re new to yoga, you might be thinking “what the hell is Bikram?”
And that’s how I lead you to the world of yoga, different styles, different people…
Bikram yoga. I’ll be honest now. First time when I tried Bikram, I thought I’d die. I just wanted to beat up the instructor, who, by the way, won’t show you the poses, but walks around and tells/yells at you to push harder. How can I push harder? If I push any harder, my limbs will melt off. But there is something weird about Bikram. That “how am I still alive?” -euphoria after the class, or that slight shock when you have survived the ultimate torture… It’s absolutely awesome. So I kept going, and I noticed that it’s a great way to gain flexibility extremely fast and detox the body from toxins. I also noticed lots of people go there to loose weight… logically, as in every class you loose about 4 litres of your bodily fluids by sweating.
There is lots of criticism about Bikram. My gurus in India said that Bikram Choudhury ain’t nothing but a greedy-cheesy-money-making-machine. Reason for that name calling is that Bikram has trademarked 26 yoga poses, so only Bikram instructors can teach them. What? How can you claim ownership over the poses that are 5000 years old? It’s like I suddenly trademarked glass, and say that only if you buy it from Dia windows inc. you’re allowed to use it… Ridiculous! No wonder Indian government is absolutely furious.
Sorry to all loyal Bikram fans, but it seems hard to trust a yogi who teaches with a Rolex on his hand and 40 Rolls Royces in his garage. I’m anti-capitalist, and stuff like “if you don’t wash yourself with this Bikram-body-wash, you’re aura stays dirty” makes me wanna vomit… But everybody on their own terms, so carry on.
Moving on to Ashtanga. Six series founded by K.Pattabhi Jois.
I started my journey on the path of yoga with Ashtanga. Years later I studied to be an Ashtanga Vinyasa teacher in India. I do love it, it’s physically demanding practise. The purpose being the purification of the body and mind, while moving powerfully in the rhythm of your breath. It’s so physical and mental that it forces you to grow. In Ashtanga the sequence is always the same, same poses in same order. You know what you get. Most of my loyal Ashtanga yogi friends keep telling me, that it’s suitable for people who want to be in control. There’s no surprises. But beginners beware. It’s pretty tough and I would recommend starting off with a calmer asana classes.
Vinyasa Flow! As described “Vinyasa Flow will change your life, if you can survive it!”
If you are adventurous, loose, like to move and keep things unpredictable, Vinyasa Flow is for you. This is what I teach and practise the most. I adore it, it’s my passion, my yoga. Flowing from pose to pose in the rhythm of your breath, mostly having some chilled out music playing on a background. There’s no rulebook, philosophy or sequence that vinyasa must follow, it has so much room for individual, quirky yoga teacher personalities to shine through. That’s why it’s extremely important to find a teacher you relate to. So if you hate routine and like to test your physical limits while gracefully moving from posture to another, this is your style! Even NFL and NHL teams are incorporating vinyasa flow to their training programs for its physical benefits.
Hatha yoga. Basically every yoga style we practise in west is Hatha yoga. Imagine Hatha being an ice cream and Ashtanga, Iyengar, Bikram, etc. being flavours. I highly recommend starting a yoga journey with Hatha, as it’s a nice dive into the universe of yoga, while gently getting to know all the different yoga poses. You might not break a sweat, but you most definitely leave the class feeling more balanced, looser and longer.
Restorative yoga, “group naps for grown ups”. If you’re in a need of gentle stretch, relaxation and time of your own, look no further. It’s all about relaxing in maximum of ten poses, while using eye pillows, bolsters, blankets. It will leave you more rejuvenated and energised than a good nap.
Iyengar yoga, developed by B.K.S. Iyengar, is all about the alignments. While using all the possible props, from chairs to blocks and belts, Iyengar yoga is highly recommended for its benefits if you suffer from injuries or a chronic condition.
So these are pretty much the main yoga styles you’ve heard about.
But to make things more exiting, I must recommend you some of my new favourites.
(Aerial yoga in Helsinki)
Aerial yoga! Release your inner circus freak! The best way to build up trust, as you are constantly trusting that the hammock won’t come down while you are hanging upside down in the air. I’m absolutely addicted to this! Uniting yoga with acrobatics, makes the class playful, exiting, and inversion fun and safe to practise. And don’t get me started about savasana in an aerial hammock, you couldn’t find a calmer state of mind. I always knew I belong in a hammock, somewhere on the beach of Indian Ocean. So if I get to combine yoga in one of my favourite “furnitures”, what more can I ask for.
SUP yoga. I teach SUP yoga on Swan River and I cannot imagine more tranquil, more beautiful surroundings for a yoga class. Sometimes we have dolphins jumping around the boards, sometimes we laugh our butts off when we fall into the water from headstand. It’s fun, hip and in my opinion one of the best way to start a day (that you can practise legally in public)…
Prenatal yoga? After going trough the pre and postnatal yoga teacher training in Indonesia, I’ve understood the importance of prenatal yoga. Learning to breath correctly, promoting your babies health, increasing your muscle strength and flexibility you need for child birth, should be part of every single mum-to-be’s program.
Kundalini yoga, the yoga of awareness. If you are looking for more mindful and spiritual yoga class, this is for you. I definitely love my occasional Kundaliini class, especially when I start to feel that my kundalini energy doesn’t flow in my spine and my chakras are unbalanced. All that funky shaking and dancing and chanting work wonders if you like to release your inner happy-hippy. But there is lots of dangerous warnings about kundalini out there. Practised wrong, or hurrying with the awakening might leave a yogi on a permanent kundalini trip, wondering the streets with a blank look in their eyes. So be patient while going after the greater energy.
At the end of the day, whatever your style is, enjoy it! Enjoy the health benefits, stress relief, mindfulness. Remember, yoga isn’t just practising the poses, yoga is everywhere and it can be anything. It can be 3 hour long handstand practise or it can be fishing at the dawn. It’s all about being open to the beauty of life, finding the harmony so your journey on the path of life is fulfilled with happiness and kindness.